KUCHING • Sarawak stands to lose some RM5 million (S$1.65 million), by conservative estimates, after Malaysia was stripped of the rights to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships last Sunday.
With over 600 competitors expected, the hotel industry will bear the brunt of the decision, suffering losses of at least RM$1.5 million, said John Teo, honorary secretary general of the Malaysian Association of Hotels Sarawak Chapter.
Malaysia, which does not have diplomatic ties with Israel, would not allow Israeli athletes to enter the country. That led to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) taking away the event, which would have been held in Kuching from July 29 to Aug 4.
Teo said: "The swimmers and coaches stay up to two weeks, although the championships last for one week. The hotel would not be able to fill up the occupancy within (this) short span of time after the cancellation of the championships."
Sarawak has spent two years preparing for the event.
Travel agencies, restaurants, airlines, transport companies and shopping centres are also affected. Travel agencies handled air tickets and transport for competitors. Some even bought new vehicles and such losses have not been included, said Teo.
Economic costs Malaysian state Sarawak is expected to bear for not hosting the World Para Swimming Championships.
Sightseeing numbers will no longer get a boost too. Participants had been expected to visit the likes of Sibu, Miri and Mulu national park after the event, which doubles as a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Sarawak Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Abdul Karim Rahman said many were hoping for a "turning point" but the state government is not empowered to issue visas. "We are unable to do anything unless the federal government changes its stand."
He said Sarawak would have to abide by the federal government's decision.
SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK